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November 30, 2012

Loving a child on the fringe

(Continued)

PARIS —

But when the boy is born and needs a not-uncommon 5-minute CT scan, Solomon is ready to flee. Not merely does he panic, but he finds himself "try[ing] hard not to love" his newborn and has visions of "giving him up into [the] care" of an institution. All this within moments of a very small question being raised about the perfection of his child. All this from the author of "Far From the Tree."

The incident ends up being a tempest in a teapot; Solomon's son is entirely normal and discharged pronto to one of his homes in Manhattan. And yet weirdly enough, Solomon sees himself as an "adversity" survivor as a result of this experience: "I felt something brilliant and terrifying for my son as he lay in that Star-Trek-like CAT scanner," he says. In his own eyes, Solomon has joined the company of heroes: At previous moments, he admits in the last sentence of his book, he'd sometimes doubted the sanity of "heroic parents," but now he was "ready to join them on their ship."

It's hard to imagine that parents of disabled and dying children will recognize Solomon's "ship" as their own. Regardless, Solomon's kids (and he now claims three more via the sperm donations he or his partner have made) still have many opportunities to teach him what his interview subjects have only done in part.

I, too, am a slow learner. Every day, Eurydice has a thousand things to teach, and every day I assimilate precious few. One thing I have grasped though is that the more I do, the more I can do. Raising my girl taps resources that did not exist five years ago. In many ways, she's still a baby — not yet continent, not yet talking. Some days I fear she will go from being a baby to being an invalid. Medical risks are legion with Down syndrome, and they come on quickly.

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